Peter Robinson has declined to answer questions from this newspaper about a highly confidential document described as a “debtors’ charter” which he sent to NAMA less than three months before the £1.1 billion sale which is under increasing scrutiny.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) — which Sinn Fein says Mr Robinson got his principal private secretary, Jeremy Gardner to send without the knowledge of Martin McGuinness — was sent to NAMA in January 2014 and puzzled senior figures at the Republic’s ‘bad bank’ who say they effectively binned it.
Last night the News Letter obtained a copy of the document which bears some significant similarities to a proposal which the then Finance Minister Sammy Wilson had forwarded to the Dublin Finance Minister on behalf of US law firm Brown Rudnick — who represented two US firms bidding for the NAMA loans, PIMCO and Cerberus.
In the Dail on Thursday, NAMA chairman Frank Daly dismissed the proposal from Mr Robinson as “a debtors’ charter”, which he said would never have been accepted by NAMA.
He said that to NAMA the document “appeared to summarise an agreement between PIMCO and the NI Executive”.
Last night, in his first interview about the issue, Mr Robinson suggested to the BBC that Sinn Fein had been aware of his activities and claimed that a paper trail existed to prove that claim. And he appeared to indicate that the document originated from PIMCO.
But for a second day, questions from the News Letter relating to the authorship of the document and Mr Robinson’s involvement in sending it to NAMA went unanswered.
On Thursday, the DUP said to send questions to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).There was no response from either. The DUP was again contacted yesterday but again failed to respond to questions.
The draft MoU sent by Mr Robinson’s office is headed “confidential memorandum”.
It said that any ‘third party’ – seemingly a reference to bidders – should be prepared to “enter into a legally binding memorandum of understanding with the Northern Irish Government confirming certain fundamental conditions to how such third party would deal with and manage the debt portfolio”.
The document said that any buyer of the debt “would release all corporate guarantees and personal guarantees and security...of borrowers and any related parties...for nil payment. Only the assets which are the primary and principal subject of the underlying debt should be retained as security”.
The MoU then went on to set out a series of conditions which are very similar to those set out in the Brown Rudnick letter of six months earlier.
It set out several key proposals: releasing borrowers from personal guarantees, a long-term investment strategy by the bidder; a commitment by the bidder to invest significantly in the assets; a presumption that the borrowers would continue to manage the assets and be incentivised to do so; the bidder would commit to using Northern Ireland supply chains where possible.
The MoU also proposed that the bidder should commit to establishing a Northern Ireland base.
l In an article in yesterday’s News Letter, we erroneously reported that NAMA told the Dail that Frank Cushnahan was in line for £5m of the £15m legal fees paid by Cerberus. In fact, as was correctly reported in another article in yesterday’s edition, NAMA said that Mr Cushnahan was in line for £5m of the fees paid by PIMCO, the bidder which dropped out after that came to light.